Photography by Shane J Horan.
Cork, you missed out. Last Friday two extremely promising Irish alternative bands played Fred’s and you were nowhere to be found. I guess if it’s not a heritage act or a nostalgic covers band it’s not worth it! It really is quite illogical when folk complain that there’s no good music anymore when they largely can’t be bothered to have a look for it themselves. This isn’t 1992. Good music isn’t just going to pop up on MTV anymore. Google. Be proactive. Luckily, neither band let that get to them and delivered two stellar sets for those assembled.
FONDA, a jangly C86 influenced trio from Limerick, treated us to the majority of their excellent Social Services EP during their set. Endearingly straightforward and lo-fi, those tracks show a band feeling and exploring their way through their sound. ‘Sick Days’ with its earworm melody and relatively big chorus is a standout from the EP and is again tonight. The simple build to the chorus is wonderfully rewarding.
However, the band shows its rapid progress over the last year since the release of that EP when they head into new material. ‘Dreaming‘, their latest single which will feature on their upcoming second EP, is a masterclass in economy and delicate melancholy. Even better is brand new track ‘I Heard You Say’ or ‘She Never Wants To Go Home’, the band haven’t quite settled on the final name yet. The combination of the group’s talent with deft melody and kitchen sink drama lyricism marks this as perhaps the jewel in their repertoire. FONDA possess that most elusive of gifts. The capability to create songs that feel warm and new without actually doing much that is revolutionary. Simply, they write a damn fine song.
Headlining are fellow Limerick natives Slow Riot. This post punk trio are an entirely different prospect from FONDA. Their music is more grand and more tense. Much of their material is gleaned from their recent Cathedral EP and shows surprising confidence and assurance for such a new group. ‘City of Culture‘ is an acerbic, biting track. A comment on Limerick being named European City of Culture for 2020, it sports a thumping and yet fuzzed up bass, propulsive drums, and a menacing and focused descent into feedback at its climax. Recent single ‘Trophy Wife’ showcases the group’s developing talent with dynamics, melody and the evocative lyrics, “Nice to meet you in the morning / When you greet me with a fist.”
Meanwhile, ‘Cooper’s Dream’ (named for Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks) and ‘Demons’ show the group in a more restrained and reflective mode. ‘Demons‘ in particular shows that the band have the capability to build a track with finesse to a cathartic conclusion. The group also showcase two new tracks in the form of ‘Absent Dreams’, which will be the band’s next release, and ‘Pink December’. Both show the capability the trio have to call to mind great post punk bands of old, and yet still imbue the tracks with a vitality and modernity that marks them out from bands that simply follow the well trodden routes of their predecessors.
After witnessing the variety on offer on Friday, I am sure that next time both these bands return to Cork, there’ll be barely any standing room.
Follow FONDA on Facebook.
Follow Slow Riot on Facebook.